8 November 2017
Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.
Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’
Love is the answer to every one of the commandments.
Ahhh love…… It’d so easy to love those who are lovable, likeable, those who reciprocate your love. However, when faced with challenging situations and difficult people, it is another thing altogether. We’ve all heard homilies preached by our priests to: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, ‘Love and pray for those who persecute you’ and ‘Love those difficult people’.
I know I have been in those pews, rolled my eyes in my mind and said ‘Right, easier said than done.’ But Jesus tells us that love is the greatest commandment!
Of all the commandants, this one must be the hardest for me to follow. Even priests find it hard to keep that commandment, so we are in good company. Love has been described as a ‘two way street’. Many friendships and relationships end in disaster when one party forgets, and assumes that it has become a one-way expressway.
Recently, I was faced with a situation that put my faith to the test. I have had a business relationship with a very close relative of mine for the past 3 years. Though we are relatives, we are both like chalk and cheese — in personality, in the way we approach life and also how we approach business. Over time, I think we learnt to adjust to each other’s working style. However, because of issues which festered, she chose to sever our working relationship; and on my birthday to boot!
I believe that the way our little venture started is God’s gift to us. And working together would be beneficial to us and our clients. However, it is what it is and I have to honour the decision made and to move on. If the decision made was simply a difference in personality and ways we dealt with things, it would be easy for me to accept. However, the split was because of ‘personal motivations’. Even that I could accept. What hurts me most is the betrayal and the person I thought I’d known and loved all my life, turn into someone I barely know. What hurts me most is we are both Christians who continue to hurt each other.
With any cessation of a relationship, we have to deal with the difficult topic of ‘the split’. This has been an incredibly difficult process, you’d imagine. I liken it to a divorce. It brings out the monster in us. I have been praying about this and asking God what I should do. ‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.’(Rom. 12:9). I know that I have to be fair and Christ-like in handling this and I am trying really hard. Every hour of the day, I need his grace to carry me through. If it were my old self, I would fight tooth and nail and drive a really hard bargain. But as a Catholic, I keep asking myself “What would Jesus do?” But each time I receive a downright rude and war-declaring WhatsApp message, I feel like someone punched me again and I just want to throw this ‘Love your neighbour’ thing out the window and punch right back.
Remember the phrase, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you?’ I read in some article that whether you’ve been betrayed or not, don’t resort to betraying another. Following Christ is indeed not easy. It requires us to hate our father, mother, wife, children, brother, sisters, yes our own life too.
Don’t take it too literally, what Jesus is telling us is to put Him first above all other relationships and things. It asks that I give up my own ways of doing things and lean on Him to lead me. It continues to be an uphill climb today. But I know that I cannot deal with it on my own. For now, ironically, love is a one-way street. This makes no sense in the outside world. But with God, it’s the way. I have to forgive, let go and move on. Forgiving does not mean accepting the wrong behaviour of others; it means detaching from the pain, frustration, and bitterness buried within.
I continue to pray for her daily.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Jesus, in our humanness, we struggle each day to love, especially those who hurt and persecute us. But only if we walk with you, can love be possible. We pray for your grace to carry us through, especially through seemingly impossible situations. We pray to be more like you – when Peter betrayed you and yet you continued to love him.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the trials that come our way. In these times, you show us you are closer to us than ever. And also in these times, you teach us how to love and forgive as you do.